How to Adopt from Greece

View of the theater at Delphi and remains of the Temple of Apollo.

Adoption Authority

Greece's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity

Aristotelous 17 104 33 Athens, Greece Tel. 210-5232821-9 Fax 210-5234768 website: Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity

The Process

Because Greece is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Greece must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Greece before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Greece
  6. Bringing your Child Home

1.Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

The first step in adopting a child from Greece is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Greece.

2.Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how. Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Greece. Greece's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Greece's law.

3.Be Matched with a Child:

If both the United States and Greece determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Greece may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

4.Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify Greece's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.

Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5.Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in COUNTRY, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in COUNTRY.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Greece generally includes the following:

  • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: According to Greek Law, 2447/1996, all petitions submitted to local orphanages by the prospective adoptive parents are followed by an extensive and thorough field investigation performed by the social services of the institution, which is supervised by the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity. When the investigation is over, the case file is forwarded to the local institution's committee. The local institution's committee approves or disapproves the petition of the prospective parents. This committee then matches prospective adoptive parents with children, taking into account the specific needs of specific children and the corresponding ability of prospective parents to meet those needs. If the child is 12 years of age and over and of sound psychological condition, the court takes the child's wishes into consideration. In addition, the court takes into consideration the perspectives of the children of the adopting family. Because of the relatively small number of adoptions in Greece, this matching process can be detailed and precise. Adoptive parents' applications are processed by the local institutions strictly in chronological order; with the exception that priority is given to persons willing to adopt a child with special physical or psychological needs. If the petition is approved, the case file is forwarded to the appropriate court for endorsement. In order for prospective parents who live abroad to initiate an adoption, they must communicate with the respective office of the International Social Services in their country of residence, (for the Greek branch, For private adoptions within Greece, the social service arm of the respective Prefecture (Nomarchy) of the area where the parents reside will conduct the field investigation. The law requires that a home study be conducted by local social services, prior to the court hearing, so that the family and the social status of the adoptive parents can be determined. There is a 15-20 day fostering period for children living in institutions.

  • ROLE OF THE COURT: Adoptions done privately are also legal in Greece. In case of a private adoption, no restriction applies as to the place of residence of the prospective parents. There are no private adoption agencies in Greece; however, children may be adopted with the involvement of an attorney or gynecologist who will act as a facilitator. A court decision must be issued following the field investigation by the relevant social service. The majority of private adoption mediators ensure that biological parents do not know the details of the adoptive parents, to exclude the possibility of blackmail attempt or other unlawful action. The documents that comprise the legal file submitted to the court in order to issue a final decision for the adoption are:

1. Field investigation report by the Institution's social service department;
2. Marriage certificate;
3. Penal record;
4. Family status certificate;
5. Written consent of biological parent(s);
6. Proof of good financial status of prospective adoptive parents;
7. Medical examination of the adoptive parents (excluding those with chronic diseases).

In the abandonment context, a court process replaces the consent of biological parents as necessary and facilitates procedures between the adoptive parents and the interested party. Specifically, the consent of parents for adoption of their child is replaced with a specially reasoned decision of the court if:

1. Parents are unknown or the child is abandoned;
2. Both parents have been denied parental responsibility or are in a situation where they have been forbidden to exercise parental control regarding their ability to consent to adoption of the child;
3. Parents have an unknown residence;
4. The child is protected by a recognized social organization, if he/she has been removed from the parent's custody and the parents refuse to give consent; or
5. The child is delivered with the consent of parents to a (foster) family for care and upbringing, with the intent to adopt, and the child has been integrated into that family for at least a year, and the parents later refuse to give consent.

  • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no private adoption agencies in Greece. Children may be adopted with the involvement of an attorney or gynecologist who will act as a facilitator. Whether an individual adopts a child from one of the government-run institutions and orphanages, or privately, a lawyer is required.

  • TIME FRAME: Due to the limited number of children available for adoption, and the large number of prospective adoptive parents, the waiting period to finalize an adoption is approximately five years for a child living in an institution. An attorney is required in order to present the case to court and finalize the adoption. Court decisions concerning adoption cases usually take from 1-6 months before a final decision is issued. For children with health problems it usually takes up to three years. The timeframe for private adoptions varies.

  • ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your accredited U.S. agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. There are also some fees specifically associated with adopting from Greece:

The U.S. Embassy in Athens is aware that prospective adoptive parents will have to obtain a "revenue stamp" (Greek Government fee) before a child is released to him or her by a local institution. Court and attorney fees generally may be approximately 1,000 Euros for adoption of children living in local institutions. Fees may change. Fees and expenses may exist for private adoptions and they can be substantial.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: In the case of an intercountry adoption, the International Social Service in Athens requires the following documents from prospective adoptive parents in order to proceed with a field investigation:

1. An application to show their interest to adopt a child, notarized by the Greek police if they happen to be here in Greece, or sent through their International Social Services office from the United States;
2. Certified copies of birth certificates, and baptismal certificates if applicable, of the adoptive parents;
3. Certified copy of their marriage certificate;
4. Medical certificates concerning the general health condition, and separate certificates concerning the mental health of the adoptive parents;
5. Evidence of the financial status of the adoptive parents; and
6. Penal records of both adoptive parents. A "penal record" is a document that Greek citizens can obtain from the appropriate area judicial authority regard to their "conviction free" background. It has been the Embassy's experience that U.S. citizens, whenever required, can submit to the Greek authorities an FBI record, which is considered to serve the same purpose.

NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.

6.Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate .

In another provision, the court may intervene in the name of the adopted child. It may allow the adoptive parent, upon application, to add to or change the family name of the child and to add another name or delete the first (given) name that the child had before the adoption, if this is in the interest of the child.

There should be a court decision on any changes made on the name of the adopted child based on the primary birth certificate. This certificate is then presented to the Greek registry office (Lixiarhion).

2. Greek Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Greece. The adopting parents can apply for their child's passport by presenting the required documents to the Greek passport authorities.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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